Linux Gaming News

Valve Announces SteamOS In-Home Streaming as Early Closed Beta Begins

With all the hub-bub around the two big consoles duking it out for living room supremacy, an insurgent force is encroaching on the tired cliches of the console war: Steam. PC gaming giant Valve announced the details of their #SteamOS in-home #streaming service to coincide with their new upcoming Steam OS release and Steam Boxes: affordable living room #Linux-based gaming devices combining the best of consoles and powerful gaming rigs into one small package (hopefully).

The new Steam Boxes are going to be Linux-kernel powered, with the SteamOS for both operating systems. Since most game (right now) are programmed for Windows or Mac, a Steam Box is most likely not going to support your WoW addiction or your pwning nOObZ on Call of Duty: Ghosts. Yet. The very clever workaround is to have SteamOS, your network, your PC, and your SteamBox (or other device) act as a sort of internal media network, meaning you can stream gameplay from your regular gaming PC and have it delivered to a low-power laptop or, in maximum sexiness, to a Steam Box in your living room using your local network. This means you’re no longer confined to your desk for gaming. And it’s coming soon. And it’s low latency. And it’s open source. And it’s free.

What. Just. Happened.

I’m more excited for the SteamOS/SteamBox than I am for either of the new consoles, which both seem to be minor but welcome iterations of the last gen’s accomplishments (slightly better graphics, social features, etc). But what Valve is doing with SteamOS, this is what innovation really looks like. This is next gen. This is a continental shift in how gaming is approached at the platform level. Console gamers deserve the chance to experience the openness and variety of PC gaming in a format and price point that is familiar to them. If you’ve ever been anxious or intimidated by building your own gaming PC, SteamOS and the Steam Box fix a lot of these problems for you.

Valve have nearly always been on the cusp of big fundamental changes in gaming, with Steam as a software delivery platform, game design in the F2P model, and narrative design. The only thing they didn’t seem to have a direct hand in is the Oculus, even though they are one of the earliest supports of the platform, with Gabe Newell even appearing in their Kickstarter pitch video. They can do anything they want at this point, but them basing their flagship OS and subsequent boxes on Linux is a huge gamble. I for one think it’s a good risk to take, considering Windows 8 is not focusing on PC gaming for the moment, and Mac threw in that towel almost a decade ago in favor of mobile gaming. PS4 and the Xbox One have yet to close the technology gap in terms of performance, flexibility, and software openness. In-home streaming fills many potential gaps while developers move to an open source programming platform.

Keep watching for more developments on Valve’s In-Home Streaming. Go here for a brief Q&A, including instructions on how to sign up for the beta.

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